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IET Satcom 2018

ATLAS Space Operations deploys world’s first multi-band, multi-satellite electronically steered array

(9 August 2018 - ATLAS Space Operations) ATLAS Space Operations, a company that provides satellite communications as a service through an innovative software-driven, high data flow global antenna network, announced today the deployment of the first X-Band electronically steered array system - LINKS.

The first-of-its-kind 4-element array consists of 16 individual antennas and is located in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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X-Band LINKS Electronically Steered Array on location in Albuquerque, New Mexico (courtesy: ATLAS Space Operations)

Historically, space-to-ground communications have been conducted through a network of large, and expensive, parabolic dish antennas. These legacy systems can take up to months to install and deploy, creating a costly capital expenditure burden on the satellite ground network operators. Additionally, once these antennas are installed - they stay there for the rest of their serviceable life. LINKS was invented to alleviate all of these obstacles, and then some.

LINKS is the paradigm-shifting alternative to traditional parabolic dishes, researched and developed by ATLAS. The system is the first commercially available, mobile, rapidly deployable electronically steered array RF ground system in the world. The array, capable of S and X-Band, automatically integrates into ATLAS’ proprietary Freedom Software Platform. Creating a software-defined antenna system capable of supporting satellite communications, as well as other RF applications, such as detection, tracking, and exploitation.

LINKS stands only 20 inches high and 26 inches corner to corner. This revolutionary design makes way for an agile, responsive system capable of providing high data flow in operationally limited environments. The days of pouring concrete and building expensive mechanical pedestals are now a thing of the past. The four LINKS units deployed in Albuquerque took a single day to install and link up to the Freedom Software Platform within seconds of activation.

“I am extremely proud of the whole team at ATLAS for achieving this significant milestone. What it represents for the satellite industry is a complete departure from traditional space to ground communications. At ATLAS we innovate to change the game.” Said Sean McDaniel, CEO of ATLAS. “What we have delivered here is innovation where it’s needed most, finally giving the industry access to an electronically steered, multi-band, multi-satellite capable ground system. Some people in this industry have referred to this as the “Holy Grail” of satellite communications. I view this achievement as a defining moment for ATLAS and frankly the entire industry. This is only the beginning.”

Operationally, the four-unit LINKS system, which now sits atop an office building, offers ATLAS customers with similar capabilities afforded by a mid-sized parabolic antenna. With no moving parts required, the system provides a higher gain than a parabolic antenna, while simultaneously tracking multiple satellites at a single time - reducing costs, and scheduling conflicts for satellite operators.

“LINKS leverages leaps forward in computing and networking technology to eliminate the need for a large parabolic signal concentrator.” Said ATLAS Chief Engineer Steve Gaines. “We are witnessing first hand, an example of advancement in one technological field directly pollinating a leap forward in another area. While electronically steered apertures have been around for some time, this is a first-of-its-kind application, explosively widening communications options for current and future satellite operators.”

Currently, ATLAS’ Freedom Network consists of 21 operational and planned antennas globally employing their proprietary Freedom Software Platform. The Freedom Network is capable of securely handling both commercial and U.S. civil spacecraft, allowing operators to communicate with their satellites by reducing their capital expenditures at every ground entry point.

About ATLAS Space Operations

ATLAS Space Operations, listed by Morgan Stanley as a 2017 Top 12 disruptor in the satellite industry, is a ground-to-space communications service provider. Employing a revolutionary approach to satellite communications driven by new thinking and new technology, ATLAS brings more data down from space, faster, and more affordably than ever before.